In a country where they call her “Ghar ki Lakshmi’’: The Goddess who graces a home, the scars paint another picture for women! Even though we celebrate the sanctity of marriage, one in every five women has been a victim of domestic violence in India.
India ranks in the top 10 countries where women face the most domestic violence. A position we should be ashamed of.
Despite domestic violence recognised as a specific criminal offence almost four decades ago over 185312 cases of crime against women were reported in 2007. Out of which 75,930 cases were of cruelty against women by their own husbands and relatives.
This implies, that there is one case of abuse every three minutes. It’s surprising how soon, someone who should be celebrated and revered is so easily disgraced at her own home.
India is a patriarchal society, where men, or in this case the husband’s family are generally considered superior .Usually the abuser tries to gain complete authority and control, and when denied or resisted, resorts to violence and abuse.
The pattern to violent /abusive behaviour :
The details may differ in every case, but the sadistic intentions remain the same. The abuser may act violently and use verbal or physical abuse. But may soon feel guilty about his actions. He may then find excuses to justify his actions. Soon he accepts the excuses as the truth and he may find the abusive bursts as normal behaviour. He may continue having assumptions about the victim, and may think of imaginary accusations to make. He may find the victim guilty and untrustworthy and may start living a fantasy. Now he will do all he can, to implicate and find proof of this imaginary accusation and in this process try to set-up or catch his victim red handed.
The victims suffer in silence:
Well, most often, the victim may want the abuse to end but not the relationship itself. They might be unaware of the services available to help them. They might feel ashamed and embarrassed about the situation. They might feel that the world will judge them and stigmatize them for what happened. May be financially dependant on the abuser, be hopeful that the abuser will change or stop the abuse. Have religious or social beliefs that reinforce staying with the abuser as the right way.
And bearing the weight of this social and moral dilemma, the victim may chose to remain silent.
There is hope!
The abuser continues justifying his actions, and the victim continues to accept the abuse helplessly.A vicious vicious cycle! But with a few well-informed and empowered measures, the victim can hope for a better future. Firstly the signs of abusive behaviour should be recognised by the victim. As per The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 Domestic violence includes actual or threatened abuse against women in their homes, including those of a physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic nature. If the behaviour continues to persist, the victim must seek out help.
The PWDV 2005, says that the affected women are entitled to: Protection, Residence, Monetary Relief and Maintenance, Compensation, Custody and Legal Service under the provisions .There are government help-lines set up to report abuse .
Maitri India is one such organization that works for women who are at the risk of facing gender- based violence. Maitri has the unique distinction of being one of the few NGO’s that is preventing and reducing violence against women in the uniformed services, including the army, navy, air force, para-military and police in India. Maitri conducts gender sensitisation and training workshops for officers, men and families. The workshops sensitise and create awareness of VAWthat enables participants to take preventive measures for happier and healthier families.
Our duty last at the least is to stand up against such violence. The victim may be your neighbour, your colleague, your friend or maybe a person who you are not very close to. If you see it happen, do not turn a blind eye. Help Maitri voice their cries.